SUNDAY BALLEW

"There's no more beautiful city in the world, provided it's seen by night and at a distance." - Roman Polanski

I was born in Los Angeles and spent the first three years of my life in the hills of South Pasadena. My family left for Austin, Texas when I was three and since that shift in scenery and culture, I have retained an unshakable inner landscape of the city – the man-made elements and geometries of the city, the natural aspects of its geography, and how all of that together is perceived. 

This last year I started to go back to LA to explore this place that seemed both distant and familiar to me. A friend that knows the area became my passenger-seat guide as we zigzagged the city by car. As we explored, I began to familiarize myself with LA’s geography and also to contextualize some of the anchored points of my childhood memories. 


Since that first trip, I have become obsessed with this draw to the area. On one hand, I am researching the mediated landscape of the city (watching many Los Angeles, early-seventies era and location specific films, researching the city’s histories, delving into its rich lore and cinematic mythologies), and on the other, I am scouring era-specific family ephemera and snapshots and gathering family and family-friend stories of the time. 

1969, Echo Park, Los Angeles, January 2020 - Music by Michael Ballew and Red Wilder Blue, Copyright '73

As I have begun to visit locations discovered in this process - gathering audio, video and 35mm film shots – I have started to contextualize stories, reconstruct timelines and also to shake free forgotten memories that, like rediscovered photographs, have surfaced like iconic systems of dreams and memory.

Through all of this, I am noticing many beautiful arcs of personal and collective memory - in and of this city - and how these seemingly disparate lines, moving like waves of sine and cosine, have their moments of connection. 

I am beginning to understand reasons behind certain life trajectories, but also to witness the symbiotic (and influential) relationship of memory and perception, and how this contributes to the dreams, imagination and reality of an individual.  

images> Carole Ballew: (L) given to me in 2020 from Jerylie, a family friend / (R) from my mom's photo collection 

The colorful backdrop to this project is a tapestry of stories filled with young artists (my mother was a sculptor/ceramicist and my father a rock musician), their connections, and the Los Angeles creative scene of the late 1960’s and early ‘70’s.

Going even farther back, there are stories and connections to the Golden Age of film in Hollywood that climb the western hills of the city and end in the valley of the year 2020.

This project is a work in progress. I will update the site as the project evolves.

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